Wolf: Pennsylvania restaurants can expand to 50% occupancy starting Sept. 21

Pennsylvania restaurants will soon be able to double their indoor occupancy to 50% capacity, Governor Tom Wolf announced Tuesday.

Restaurants may increase indoor occupancy from 25% to 50% of capacity starting Sept. 21, more than two months after the Wolf administration, citing rising infection rates in some virus hot spots, imposed a new round of restrictions on the state’s beleaguered hospitality industry.

Establishments that want to increase capacity must certify to the state that they are complying with all public health guidelines. Those restaurants will then appear in a searchable state database called “Open & Certified Pennsylvania," the administration said.

“While our aggressive and appropriate mitigation efforts have kept case counts low, we must continue to take important steps to protect public health and safety as we head into the fall. At the same time, we must also support the retail food services industry that has struggled throughout this pandemic,” Gov. Wolf said. “The self-certification ensures that ​restaurants can expand indoor operations and commit to all appropriate orders so that employees and customers alike can be confident they are properly protected.” 

Once eateries are self-certified, they will appear in an online database that will allow residents to find certified and compliant businesses in their area.

Any restaurant that wishes to ​increase to 50 percent indoor capacity on September 21 must complete the online self-certification process by October 5. 

The self-certification documents and information about the Open & Certified Pennsylvania program can be found online starting September 21 and will contain:

  • A list of requirements contained in the current restaurant industry guidance and enforcement efforts
  • A statement that the owner has reviewed and agrees to follow these requirements
  • The business' maximum indoor occupancy number based on the fire code
  • A statement that the owner understands that the certification is subject to penalties for unsworn falsification to authorities

The governor's office released some more information on the certifications in the form of frequently asked questions on Tuesday afternoon.

In Philadelphia, health officials say restaurants should not assume they will be joining the rest of the state in increasing capacity limits later this month. However, the topic will likely be a point of discussion in the coming days, according to Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley. Philadelphia resumed indoor dining at 25% capacity on Tuesday. 


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